Memory tree for Waterside Cancer Support Centre’s 10th birthday

We’re inviting local people to come along to The Grove Garden at our Waterside Cancer Support Centre on Saturday 31st October and add a ribbon to our memory tree to commemorate the centre’s tenth birthday.

June Richens founded the centre 18 months after losing her husband to a brain tumour. Determined that anyone living with cancer should have a local place to go to be listened to and cared for, she rallied the local community to create a haven which the Waterside area rapidly took to its heart.

She says:

“My husband David was fit and strong, so it came as a total shock when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and we were told it was terminal. While he was very ill in hospital I was able to speak to a Macmillan nurse about my feelings. It was both a relief and a release. But I didn’t want to keep going back to the clinical environment of the hospital and so made an appointment to see my GP to see if there was any local support I could access. When he told me there wasn’t, I couldn’t believe it. There had to be, and I knew I had to do something about it. I was at my lowest ebb and most vulnerable, but I knew that if I didn’t do something about it now, I never would.

“I started looking around for premises and formed a committee. The Councillors and team at Hythe and Dibden Parish Council found us two rooms at The Grove and, with its waterside location, we knew it was perfect. We started furiously fundraising and hosted a fashion show which raised £1,400. Shortly afterwards we took part in a competition on Radio Solent and won the top prize. From there, things really took off and before long we had 15 befrienders and opened three days a week. We asked Southampton FC’s FA Cup-winning manager, Lawrie McMenemy to formally open the centre on 31st October 2010 and he later agreed to be our President. Of course, he knew a lot of people and really helped to raise our profile. Since then, and thanks to the wonderful team and the support of a community which has taken the centre to its heart, we have evolved into a very special and much needed place.

As we turn ten, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who felt passionately that local people should have somewhere to go when they most need support and who helped to make it happen. Above all, I would like to thank our wonderful and dedicated team at the centre who understand how you feel and will be right by your side with the support you need, regardless of age, gender or type of cancer.

We had hoped to have a proper celebration on our tenth birthday, but our plans have been thwarted by Covid-19. However, to mark the milestone we would like to invite local people to come along to the Grove Garden (just outside our centre) to tie a ribbon around a tree, perhaps with a message of support, your memories of the centre in the early days or in memory of someone.

Although we can’t be together in person, we hope the ribbons will be a poignant remembrance of the togetherness of the Waterside community.”

Please join us. If you would like to add a ribbon to our memory tree, please come along to our Waterside support centre, 25 St John’s Street, Hythe, SO45 6BZ, from 10am on Saturday 31st October. Social distancing and strict hygiene measures relating to the ribbons and pens will be observed.

Our Waterside Support Centre